Welcome to SCFE’s 2018 Week 4 Hot Topics. The weather has improved from the Article Circle-level temperatures of the first three weeks, and Fantasy Baseball is getting back to normal. Of course, “normal” is a relative term when it comes to Fantasy Baseball.
While the temperatures are warming up, there’s lingering Fantasy Baseball fallout from MLB’s April deep freeze. It’s like watching Richard in an awkward situation on Silicon Valley. Even when the worst is over; you know there are going to be consequences.
No matter your opinion on shortening the season and starting later, the frigid temps played havoc with MLB’s and Fantasy Baseball’s first three weeks. It wasn’t just the cancellations; although they probably froze some weekly league lineups like a White Walker. There’s also the injuries and cold (pun intended) starts from numerous players.
Even if you feel like your teams were buried under a foot of snow to the start the season, there’s still a long way to go. As it gets warmer, players will return from injury and both pitchers and hitters will finally be able to settle in. Just think of it as getting all the bad mojo out of the way early on.
In Fantasy Baseball, as in life, it’s important to maintain your sense of humor. It helps when you’re struggling. That’s why I picked Super Troopers for this week’s column. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, it always makes me laugh. Not to mention Super Troopers 2 just premiered on 4/20. Probably a coincidence.
If you’ve never seen Super Troopers, do yourself a favor and watch it at least once. Even if it’s not your thing, you’ll still get to see the most hilarious use of a bear costume ever. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.
Let’s hit the Fantasy Baseball highway with SCFE’s 2018 Week 4 Hot Topics.
2018 Week 4 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “You are freaking out . . . man.”
Gleyber Torres, SS, New York Yankees
Released in 2001, Super Troopers is the first movie from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. They play a group of state troopers who spend their time messing with the drivers they pull over and pranking each other. Their shenanigans include the cat game (saying “meow” at least 10 times) and the repeater (self-explanatory).
It’s not highbrow, but it’s witty at the same time. You’ll laugh and think. A little. Like the stoners at the beginning of Super Troopers (candy bars!), prospect watchers were freaking out when word hit that Gleyber Torres was getting the call on April 22.
If the interweb was a real place, innocent people likely would have been trampled by Fantasy Baseball owners stampeding to the waiver wire. Also, if the interweb really were a real place, it would be disgusting. Thank you, Chappelle’s Show.
Gleyber Torres was signed by the Cubs as a 16-year old international free agent in 2013. He displayed an advanced hit tool from the start. From 2014-2018 he posted an overall .285 AVG and a whopping .362 OBP in the minors. He also had two 20+ SB seasons.
He was the Cubs’ top prospect when he was traded to the Yankees at the 2016 deadline as the key piece of the Aroldis Chapman deal. At the time, I thought the Cubs gave up too much for a rental but it was worth it if the Cubs won the World Series. And there you go. I guess everybody wins.
Gleyber Torres looked to be on a fast track to the Show in 2017 until he tore the UCL in his non-throwing arm in a freak play at the plate. He was healthy in Spring Training this year after rehabbing, but looked rusty and was sent to the minors to start the season.
Through 14 games in the minors to start 2018, Gleyber Torres posted a .347 AVG/.393 OBP/6 R/1 HR/11 RBI/1 SB stat line. On April 22, he got the call. And it had absolutely nothing to do with service time. Not a thing. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.
So what’s all the fuss about? Gleyber Torres can flat out hit. He has on-base skills, and he can run. There is some swing-and-miss to his game, however, and the power is still a work in progress. Keep in mind he doesn’t turn 22 until December. He’s also in a Yankees lineup that’s going to churn out offense like the WWE churns out catchphrases. Happy Rusev Day.
Gleyber Torres is currently listed at SS in ESPN and Yahoo Leagues, but he should spend most of his time at 2B. He could also play some 3B, giving him multi-position potential. He’s currently owned in 50% of ESPN leagues and 61% of Yahoo leagues. The window is closing.
Is Gleyber Torres another overhyped prospect? Could he struggle and get sent back down? Absolutely. Any rookie is a risk. If you’ve got an open roster spot or you need to jolt your lineup, however, this kind of potential doesn’t show up every day. It’s a risk you want to take.
Hot Topic No. 2: “I am all that is man!”
Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland Athletics
This quote from Trooper Thorny applies to winning a syrup chugging contest but also works for a no-hitter. If Sean Manaea wants to declare his manliness, his no-no against the Red Sox on April 21 certainly gives him street cred.
Like all good movies, books or tv shows, a no-hitter or perfect game has moments that stand out. A controversial or standout play is almost a requirement. Sean Manaea’s 10 K no-hitter certainly had those.
You had the Andrew Benintendi play, which featured an overturned call and the interpretation of an obscure baseball rule. In case you’re wondering, it’s Rule 5.09(b)(1) of the Official Baseball Rules (2018 edition). Based on the Rule, I think the umps got it right.
More interesting, however, was the Marcus Semien play. It was a tough play that could’ve been scored a hit, but was ruled an error. I think Marcus Semien can live with it. Those are the moments that make baseball history.
Sean Manaea was originally a 2013 first-round draft pick of the Royals (34th overall), and was traded to the A’s at the 2015 trade deadline. He flashed serious K potential with 265 career Ks in 221.2 minor league IPs. He was first promoted to the majors on April 29, 2016; and finished the season with a 7-9/3.86 ERA/1.19 WHIP/124 K line in 144.2 IPs.
Considered a sleeper/breakout candidate heading into 2017, Sean Manaea looked the part during the first half. Like the second half of Suicide Squad, however, things fell apart quickly. Sean Manaea’s first half stats in 2018: 7-4/3.87 ERA/1.22 WHIP/84 Ks in 79 IPs. His second half stats: 5-6/4.86 ERA/1.58 WHIP/56 Ks in 80 IPs. Ouch.
The ERA spike could be partially explained by a BABIP that went from approximately .290 in the first half to .350 in the second half. But the drop in Ks, along with a decreased swinging strike percentage (down from 15% in the first half to 9% in the second half), was disturbing.
Sean Manaea did post a 3.54 ERA in September 2017, so he at least finished the season on a positive note. Still, only 26 heading into the season, it was a little early to declare Sean Manaea a bust. There was still risk in drafting him, however. So far in 2018, Sean Manaea has richly rewarded owners who took the gamble. Through his first 5 starts, he has posted a 3-2/1.23 ERA/0.60 WHIP/30 K stat line in 36.2 IPs. It’s not as if he was struggling before the no-no either. He has not allowed more than 2 ER or 2 BB in any start.
The ERA and WHIP will undoubtedly increase as the season goes on, but you’ve got a lefty with K potential in a pitcher-friendly home park. I’m guessing there will be some blow-ups along the way, but Sean Manaea looks like a young pitcher who struggled and is figuring things out. It happens. Sometimes patience is all you need.
Hot Topic No. 3: “I’m sorry about that delousing; just standard procedure. It’s powdered sugar.”
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals
Apparently, lice hate sugar. Who knew? I’m guessing Mike “Moose” Moustakas felt like he a got a sugar delousing this past offseason. Like the Buckaroo Banzai sequel, Mike Moustakas’ free agency payday never materialized. I’m still holding out hope for Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League.
At any rate, Mike Moustakas had his 2016 season wiped out by a fluke injury. He returned healthy in 2017 and finished his free agency walk year with a .272 AVG/75 R/38 HR/85 RBI/0 SB stat line. The 38 HRs were a Royals’ single-season record.
After the season was over, Mike Moustakas filed for free agency and turned down the Royals’ $17.4 million qualifying offer. Unfortunately, this backfired in spectacular fashion. This past offseason, it was tougher for MLB free agents to get paid than it was for Porter to get his money in Payback. And Porter only wanted $70,000.
You would think a lefty 3B who hits for power and AVG wouldn’t have a problem getting signed. Maybe teams were hesitant to sign a 29-year old with no speed to a long-term contract. Or maybe MLB agents overplayed their hand. Either way, Mike Moustakas returned the Royals in March on a one-year, $6.5 million base salary deal. Nobody saw that coming. Cue the Welcome Back, Kotter theme.
So far this season, the Moose is loose. Through April 22, Mike Moustakas has posted a .318 AVG/12 R/6 HR/17 RBI/0 SB stat line in 20 games. You think he’s venting his frustrations on seeing former teammates Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain get paid? Just maybe.
If you’re a Mike Moustakas owner, enjoy the path of rage. This isn’t a mirage. The power has always been there, and he has a career contact rate better than 80%. With a little luck, there’s .300 AVG/30 HR/100 RBI potential here.
As for his return to free agency after this season, maybe Mike Moustakas should look for a shorter-term contract. Or maybe he and other players should think about taking a qualifying offer if it’s made. $17.4 million or a similar amount is nothing to sneeze at. Just saying.
There are the Fantasy Baseball 2018 Week 4 Hot Topics. Even if the season hasn’t started out well for you, it’s still April. The Fantasy Baseball season is a marathon; not a sprint. Just make sure to hang on to your sense of humor. Give the cat game a try at work. Or not. I’ll leave it up to you.
Until next time, always never forget to check your references.
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